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Tribe opening casino in college town

January 3, 2018
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Four Winds Casinos bar
Four Winds Casinos operates casinos in New Buffalo, Hartford, Dowagiac and South Bend. Photo via fb.com

A new casino is opening this month in a Midwest college town.

The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, based in Dowagiac, is opening Four Winds South Bend at 4 p.m. on Jan. 16.

Located on 166 acres of tribal trust land, located between Prairie Avenue, U.S. 31 and Locust Road in South Bend, this is the first casino in Indiana owned and operated by a Native American tribe.

The 175,000-square-foot space includes 1,800 games, four restaurants, a players lounge, a coffee shop, three bars, a retail outlet and about 4,500 parking spaces, including an enclosed parking structure.

When complete, the casino will employ about 1,200 people.

Restaurants include The Buffet, Copper Rock Steakhouse, Timbers Fast Food & Deli, White Birch Market and Kankakee Grille

The architect working on the project is Memphis-based HBG Design. The civil engineer is Wightman and Associates from Benton Harbor. The construction management company is F.A. Wilhelm from Indianapolis. Kramer Management Group from Lansing represented the owners on the project.

“From the moment we began construction, we did so with the full support and cooperation from the National Indian Gaming Association, our local, county and state governments and most importantly, from the community,” said Frank Freedman, COO, Four Winds Casinos. “We are proud of the coordinated efforts of all of our partners in construction to keep us moving forward.”

The South Bend Board of Public Works approved an agreement that enables the city to provide sewer and water services to the Pokagon Band site in South Bend.

As part the agreement, the Pokagon Band will provide the city with $400,000 to assist with replacing and upgrading a lift station.

Another agreement involves payment by the tribe to the city in lieu of property taxes, as well as community development initiatives and other terms and conditions related to the site's development.

The deal also requires the Pokagon Band to make an annual payment to the city equaling 2 percent of net win. Payments will not be less than $2 million if the casino has more than 1,700 games.

The tribe has also agreed to fund a variety of community development projects and causes.

John P. Warren, chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, said the casino’s “benefits will multiply.”

“When we broke ground in December 2016, we did so knowing we’ll have a significant economic impact on the region,” Warren said. “Once operating, it will generate revenue to fund services and programs that will create additional economic opportunities for Pokagon citizens, the City of South Bend and also fund community projects, local organizations and schools. Our commitment to our tribal citizens, children and families of this region is our greatest priority.”

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